Thursday, January 30, 2014

What was Café Society?

AMANDA: What have you been doing lately? During these last years?

ELYOT: Traveling about. I went round the world you know after…

AMANDA [hurriedly]: Yes, yes, I know. How was it?

ELYOT: The world?


ELYOT: Oh, highly enjoyable.

The characters Amanda and Elyot in Private Lives are indicative of a social group that came to be known as Café Society. It was the name given to the fashionable elite who spent their lives in the pursuit of amusement, luxury, and excitement in the post WWI era. After the War to End All Wars, people wanted to live in the moment, and the 1920’s through the early 1930’s were a time of decadence, frivolity, and defiance of the past driven by a restlessness grown out of tragedy. Those who were part of the Café Society were the most exalted of these revelers, living every moment as though it were their last. It was a mix of titled aristocrats, nouveau riche, celebrated figures of the day, tastemakers, people-in-the-know, artists, and society wits. Café Society’s mix of different classes lent to its eclectic flavor. If you were titled, rich, well-connected, talented, or excellent company, you might find entry into this rarified world of weekend parties, costume balls, glamorous nightclubs, luxury yachts and travel to fashionable locales. In fact, being fashionable in all ways was the goal of many a Café Society member. Some found the pursuits of this group superficial, even deviant and debased; and others saw it as glittering, romantic, chic, and cosmopolitan. They lived as though the Biblical phrase “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” was always in the back of their minds, driving them to seek life and pleasure with Dionysian fervor.

And, as Elyot says in Private Lives, it was certainly, “highly enjoyable.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Opening Night of 'Private Lives'

It was standing room only for the Opening Night of Private Lives at PlayMakers. Thanks to all the dedicated artists and staff who worked incredibly hard to make this fantastic production possible.

Here are some pictures from the Opening Night celebration.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Inspiration for Amanda’s Costumes

Paris was the main force in high fashion at this time, but Hollywood reinterpreted trends to dial up the glamour. Paris had Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet: Hollywood had Adrian, Orry-Kelly, Howard Greer and Travis Banton. In the 1930’s, as many as 90 million Americans packing into movie houses weekly, a welcomed respite from the disheartening daily of the Depression. Hollywood became the arbiter style and had a trickle down influence on everyday fashion.

For Private Lives, costume designer, Jennifer Caprio, is taking her cues from both Hollywood and the Paris couturiers of the 1930’s. One of costumes created for Amanda was inspired by an evening dress by Elsa Schiaparelli. The original dress was a sari-inspired bias cut creation with a cascade of Madonna lilies falling from the shoulder all the way to the floor. The dress was given to the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York by Yeffe Kimball Slatin.

Amanda’s traveling suit was inspired by a costume created by the legendary Hollywood designer Adrian for Joan Crawford for the film No More Ladies from 1935.


Evening dress by Elsa Schiaparelli in the collection of Museum at the FIT in New York.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Final Dress Rehearsal for 'Private Lives'

After months of preparation the final dress rehearsal for Private Lives has arrived. With Opening night just a few days away, here are a few pictures to give you a sneak peek of this 1930’s comic masterpiece.

Private Lives Ensemble; photo by Jon Gardiner

Kristen Mengelkoch, Tom Coiner, Jeffrey Blair Cornell & Julie Fishell; photo Jon Gardiner

Jeffrey Blair Cornell & Tom Coiner; photo by Jon Gardiner

Julie Fishell & Jeffrey Blair Corell; photo by Jon Gardiner

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Welcome to Café Society

PlayMakers offers special Café Society seating for Noel Coward’s ‘Private Lives’

Are you a kindred spirit of the “Bright Young Things” who frequented nightclubs of the 1930s? Do you long for the sophisticated glamour and witty banter of Noel Coward and his black-tie crowd? Then PlayMakers’ Café Society seating is the one-of-a-kind theatre experience you.

Director Sean Daniels says:

"We want to let the audience immerse themselves in Noel Coward's world of the 1930s supper club scene where fashion, comedy and deliciousness were what an evening was all about. Sitting at a Café Society table makes this possible – you can be in the story and have the experience without having to participate in the play itself."

For $20 in addition to the price of a Section A show ticket, a Café Society seat includes:

  • Exclusive floor seating at café tables surrounding the stage, right next to the action.
  • Before the show you’ll be served a mocktail presented in period 1930s barware devised for Private Lives by Gary Crunkleton of The Crunkleton. Accompanying the mocktail, which Gary calls The Violet Hour, are a mushroom crostini and gazpacho shooter.
  • At intermission you’ll receive premium coffee and a mini dessert sampler. Coffee and the delectable edibles are from The Weathervane at Southern Season.

Private Lives is onstage Jan 22 – Feb 9.

To purchase your Café Society tickets or for more information, call the PlayMakers box office at 919.962-PLAY (7529) or visit

Friday, January 3, 2014

PlayMakers presents world premiere of Mike Daisey’s ‘The Story of the Gun’

PlayMakers Repertory Company will present the world premiere of “The Story of The Gun,” created and performed by award-winning storyteller-monologuist Mike Daisey, Jan. 8-12.

Mike Daisey, photo by Ursa Waz

The professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill specially commissioned the production as part of its PRC² series. PRC² features innovative, topical presentations coupled with engaging post-show discussions with the creative artists following each performance.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly and 2 p.m. on Jan. 12 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Ticket prices start at $15 and may be purchased at or by calling (919) 962-PLAY (7529). Tickets are also still available as part of PlayMakers subscription packages.

In “The Story of The Gun,” Daisey, no stranger to controversy, tackles his most provocative subject yet: America’s relationship with guns. Throwing easy answers and partisan bickering out the window, Daisey’s performance promises to cut through the political static with his trademark blend of hilarious comedy, brilliant observation and pitch-perfect timing.

“I programmed ‘The Story of The Gun’ this season for the same reason that I programmed ‘Assassins;’ to engage in a meaningful conversation with our community about guns and how deeply woven they are in our idea of ourselves as Americans,” says PlayMakers producing artistic director Joseph Haj. “We are a nation of roughly 300 million people and 300 million guns. I think that’s worthy of interrogation.”

The New York Times calls Mike Daisey “the master of the finest solo performers of his generation.” “A monologuist who always threatens to burst out of his chosen form—funny, literate and provocative,” says the Chicago Tribune. “A mesmerizing performer who spins words into comic and emotional gold,” agrees The Oakland Tribune.

“Mike is one of the most clear-eyed, artistically courageous and compelling artists around,” Haj added. “I knew, by commissioning him to wrestle with this issue, he’d create something that challenges our assumptions with scathing, hilarious and insightful observations from multiple points of view. To share the work of two master storytellers in Mike Daisey and Stephen Sondheim, each of them looking at the question of guns in our culture using their own unique talents, allows us to put together two plays that are both thought-provoking and hugely entertaining.”

PlayMakers will present Stephen Sondheim’s multiple Tony Award-winner “Assassins” April 2-20. The musical blends stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins.

Rounding out this season’s PRC² lineup will be “Hold These Truths” by Jeanne Sakata (April 23-27). Next in PlayMakers’ Mainstage Season is Noel Coward comedy classic “Private Lives” (Jan. 22-Feb. 9.)

PlayMakers is based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. The Drama League of New York has named PlayMakers one of the best regional theaters in America and INDY Week calls PlayMakers the best live theater company in the Triangle.

For more information about Mike Daisey: .